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Federal funds will help repopulate Joplin's tornado-torn areas

September 03, 2013|by Lindsey Henry, KY3 News | lhenry@ky3.com

JOPLIN, Mo. -- A new federal grant is aimed at getting more people into homes that are in the areas destroyed by the massive tornado on May 22, 2011.  The Joplin Homebuyer Assistance Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  It provides $8 million to help up to 400 middle-income families with down payments and closing fees to buy homes.

To qualify, the household annual income must not exceed 120 percent of the medium income in Joplin.  The household would qualify for $20,000 to $30,000.  However, the new home must be bought or built in the path of destruction left by the tornado.

"These homes can be provided for people that are making a decent living.  It's just that last step towards getting the savings.  It's very hard for a young couple with two children to do savings; you have to be pretty diligent and usually your needs are greater than what you have available,” said Crystal Harrington, executive officer for the Home Builders Association.

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Anyone can qualify for the homebuyer assistance program, whether you lived in Joplin before the tornado or you're looking to move here. 

"Your house has to be located in the tornado zone and so it's got to be within this yellow boundary,” said Harrington, pointing at a map of the city.  “The idea there is that this program is geared strictly towards repopulating this tornado zone."

ShaLynn Cooper lives in Avilla, east of Joplin, but says she’s thinking about moving to Joplin and might apply for the program.

"I think it'd be very beneficial because people from families that were affected by the tornado, they can move down here so that they can be closer to their loved ones and also to help others,” said Cooper.

"Between the state-of-the-art hospital and the state-of-the-art high school or schools that are being built, and that will be available for new work opportunities in the next year and a half, they are really going to paint a picture that makes us a lot more attractive to retail and other employers that will come here,” said Harrington.  "This is certainly going to give us a leg up towards making sure that tornado area is made up of neighborhoods that are very family friendly."

A person or family who takes advantage of this program must live in the home for at least five years to earn the equity off the home.

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